Welcome one and all to the inaugural Short Story Saturday. The rules are super simple; post a part of your short story (or a piece of micro-fiction) each week. Make sure you include this linky thing so your readers can find other great pieces of short stories. A huge thank you to Emily Witt at Keys and an Open Mind for setting up the linky.
This is the first part of a piece I had to write for my creative writing class. We were told to write in as literary style as possible and to avoid fantasy. I freaked out a bit then because fantasy is what I usually write. Every attempt I make to set an event in the real world tends to flop but I embraced the challenge and this is the result.
Emil sighs, and runs his hands through tousled hair in an attempt to tidy it. Pushing through the bustle of the airport, he finds the taxi rank. Climbing into the nearest cab, he hesitates. The driver shoots him an irritated look, ’Where to?’
Samantha is expecting him but he doesn’t want to face her yet, ‘Take me into the city. Anywhere near Collins Street is fine.’ Emil jumps out as soon as the taxi pulls up, throwing the driver a fifty dollar note. He makes for his favourite café, hidden in an obscure alleyway. Taking his usual seat on the pavement, in spite of the weather, he scans the café for the waitress who usually serves him. He does not recognise any of the wait staff. Surprising what changes in two months, he thinks to himself.
He closes his eyes, tired from the long flight and his girlfriend’s tantrums. He can feel the lattice back of the chair digging through his jacket, uncomfortable but not enough to bother doing anything about it. He breathes in coffee, sweet perfume and wintered city.
Emil opens his eyes. His waitress sets down a mug in front of him. Flat white, double shot, 2 sugars, a faint curl of steam rising. Just the way he likes it. He hasn’t had a chance to order. She smiles, ‘Did you think I’d forget?’
He can’t tell whether she’s talking about his coffee order or his absence. She disappears inside the café before he thinks to ask. He takes a sip of his coffee. It tastes of Peru, exploitation and money he does not have. But he craves a decent brew. Since leaving for Sweden two months ago, he’s had only airport attempts and Swedish sludge. Three others brave the pavement today; an old woman, made-up like a girl half her age, and two beanie-topped hipsters, regurgitating Foucault with all the expertise of two hazy weeks and youthful arrogance. All the other café patrons huddle in the poorly lit interior, rugged up against the weather.
Emil watches reflections of passers-by in the window, a habit picked up from his youth when he thought some secret service would recruit him if only he perfected the art of covert surveillance. He had spent hours trailing people through city alleyways and watching reflections. During his uni days when he should have known better, Emil would spend hours tracking businessmen and sitting in cafes such as this. When his friends asked him about it he brushed off their criticisms, insisting he liked the atmosphere, the people, the colourful, wild city. It wasn’t a lie but it wasn’t the whole truth and the ambiguity pleased him. In the window, he sees a blonde head and it is his mother, not a stranger meeting his gaze. He turns. The woman has moved on. His mother is still dead, stuck in frozen Swedish soil, temperate as her Nordic heart. He remembers the last few months spent at her bedside while she wasted away. Impartial, unaffected. Does that make me a bad son, he wonders, idly playing with a sugar sachet. He slips the sachet into his pocket. It will join all the others he’s collected over the years. And it will join the list of reasons Samantha will give for leaving him.
*Flykt is Swedish for ‘flight’.